1.6B Lal-lo Airport to Rise in Cagayan


September 9, 2009

Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) awarded Wednesday the P1.658-billion contract to Cagayan Land Property Development Corp. (CLPDC) for the construction of the international airport in Lallo, Cagayan.

The project is a joint venture between the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the CLPDC as the private sector partner. The joint venture is good for 50 years.

CEZA Administrator and CEO Jose Mari Ponce and CLPDC President Basilio Rodriguez signed the joint venture Tuesday, Sept. 8. Construction of the project is expected to start within the month and be completed in a year.

CEZA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation that develops and manages the 54,000-hectare CSEZFP, an economic and tourism hub in the coastal town of Sta. Ana in Cagayan province.

Under the joint venture agreement, CEZA will invest P691 million or 41.7 percent of the total equity while its private partner CLPDC will contribute the remaining P966 million or 58.3 percent. CLPDC, established in 2008, is composed of CAMJ Construction, Inc., LR Land Developers, Inc., TCGI Engineers, and Spanish firm Asesores y Consultores Aeronauticos S.L. The Spanish firm shall be tapped to manage the operations of the airport, once construction is finished.

The project involves the construction of a 2,200-meter runway, with a width of 45 meters, following the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It will be designed to accommodate large aircraft such as Airbus A319-100, which has a typical seating capacity of 134 passengers.

It will also include a terminal building covering a floor area of 1,000 square meters, paved apron and tarmac that can accommodate two aircraft simultaneously, and a control tower.

“Once completed, the CEZA International Airport will complement the Port Irene Seaport, which is emerging as an international transhipment hub and tourism destination in north-eastern part of Luzon,” Ponce said.

As an investment hub, CSEZFP has become the preferred site of 86 foreign and domestic investors, of which 48 were already operational as of December 2008. These companies have committed to invest more than P13 billion.

“An international airport with international facilities and equipment is necessary to make CSEZFP a viable Freeport and tourism destination in Asia," Ponce said.

Data from the Air Transportation Office (ATO) show that there were 2,359 international visitor arrivals in Cagayan via the Tuguegaro City Airport from Macau and China alone in 2008. Chartered flights bring tourists to CSEZFP via Tuguegarao.

Cagayan Valley ranked as the 7th top regional destination for tourists in the country. In 2008, it generated P1.6 billion in tourism receipts from the arrivals of 670,000 visitors, including 32,000 foreign tourists.

Visitor arrivals in 2008 were up by 7.5 percent from around 623,000 tourists in 2007. In particular, the volume of foreign tourists rose by over 20 percent to 32,000 from only 26,000 a year earlier, as CEZA’s marketing campaign paid off.

A joint venture company will also be created and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to manage the construction and operation of the international airport, which will cater to the locators, visitors and tourists in the bustling Freeport and economic zone.

Ponce cited the need to construct the airport in the vicinity of Barangay San Mariano and Dagupan in Lallo to provide faster connection to the rapidly growing economic hub from the rest of the country and the world.

Cagayan Freeport is at least 12 hours away from Manila by land travel. While it is accessible by air through a domestic flight to Tugueguarao City, the Freeport is still four hours away from the capital of Cagayan province.

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